National Finance Corporation CEO discusses Ecuador with BMUN

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Kamilla Sharipova | The Ticker

Emanuela Gallo, News Editor

The CEO of the National Finance Corporation, Ecuador’s largest public bank, Eduardo Salgado Manzano, discussed the government, finance sector and economy of the country to members of the Baruch Model United Nations at its event on Oct. 22.

At the event, he spoke about how Ecuador’s economy before the COVID-19 pandemic was highly dependent on oil prices. The economy grew until 2015 when oil prices decreased, resulting in a slow economy.

The country experienced no growth in 2020 and little growth in 2021, according to Salgado Manzano.

Ecuador “missed the opportunity to create a sustainable economy during the oil boom,” leading to external borrowing and public debt, Salgado Manzano said.

In 2010, the debt levels were approximately 20% of the gross domestic product, compared to 65% in 2020.

“We don’t have economic instruments like the fiscal or monetary policy to improve the economy,” Salgado Manzano said.

He also spoke about how before the pandemic, the country experienced 1.2 million tourists per year. This year, there has been about half that number.

Ecuador has surpassed many other countries in its rate of vaccination, according to Salgado Manzano. He expects the country’s economy to improve following mass vaccination.

Ecuador was one of the hardest hit countries at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Our ICU in the terminal care unit, turned into intensive care units, was full,” he said. “And so, we had a lot of pain and death, but we are trying to improve the health system.”

In addition to exporting $6 to $7 billion in oil, its biggest income generator, Ecuador also exports $2.9 to $3 billion in bananas.

It also exports $1 billion of fish such as tuna and $400 million in coffee and other exports.

Salgado Manzano said that to modernize the labor market, the country should speed up hiring, increase job opportunities and improve social protection for women and youth.

He also wants to efficiently allocate more resources to solve chronic child malnutrition.

The speaker said that progressive tax reform would sustain social policy that supports the vulnerable and lead to a reduction of social gaps.

He also said they have made alliances with universities to give scholarships, in an effort to improve education even on the virtual level.

Ecuador has benefitted from free trade agreements such as the one with the European Union, which has opened its markets to all of the EU countries. It is seeking to do the same with the United States.

“I assume you know we don’t make a lot of money here at the public level,” he said. “But I embrace with my mind and my heart that I’m doing something for my country.
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In the past, Salgado Manzano served as general manager of the city of Guayaquil’s largest bus terminal and vice president of Citibank.

He is also a professor of financial ethics and a business administration columnist for one of Ecuador’s largest newspapers, El Universo.

He has studied in Barcelona, Spain, Quito — the capital of Ecuador — and Houston, Texas and worked around the world.

Salgado Manzano is also a friend of the Ecuadorian president, Guillermo Lasso. The president appointed him in 2021 to oversee the National Financial Corporation of Ecuador.

Editor’s Note: The Ticker’s photography editor, Iraj Zia, pictured above, is the Baruch Model United Nations treasurer.